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Publisher's Summary

The first volume of the extraordinary Southern Reach trilogy - now a major motion picture written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina) and starring Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac.

For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border – an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness. The Southern Reach, a secretive government agency, has sent eleven expeditions to investigate Area X. One has ended in mass suicide, another in a hail of gunfire, the eleventh in a fatal cancer epidemic. Now four women embark on the twelfth expedition into the unknown.

©2014 Jeff VanderMeer Creative, Inc. (P)2014 2014 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A tense and chilling psychological thriller about an unravelling expedition and the strangeness within us. A little Kubrick, a lot of Lovecraft, the novel builds with an unbearable tension and claustrophobic dread that lingers long afterwards. I loved it." (Lauren Beukes, award-winning author of Zoo City and The Shining Girls)
"Original and beautiful, maddening and magnificent." (Warren Ellis)
"One of those books where it all comes together - the story and the prose and the ideas, all braided into a triple helix that gives rise to something vibrant and alive. Something that grows, word-by-word, into powerful, tangled vines that creep into your mind and take hold of it. Annihilation is brilliant and atmospheric, a novel that has the force of myth." (Charles Yu, author of How to Live in a Science Fictional Universe)
"A contemporary masterpiece." ( The Guardian)

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What listeners say about Annihilation

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    3 out of 5 stars

Didn't like the narrator

The narrator has a very odd way of reading which made the story quite hard to follow. Her intonation was all over the place, yet her pace and volume stayed the same, even in dramatic or suspenseful moments. The overall effect was one of emotionlessness. I am not sure if this was a conscious decision on her part (given that the protagonist is a scientist writing an expedition journal this would make sense) but it didn't work for me at all.

9 people found this helpful

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Watched the movie, read the book.

I came by this book series via the netflix movie. It was incredible, so I started listening on the book, and ordered the whole book series. The book and the movie are almost as if two separate entities that are bound together by some of the characters and few similarities. I can't really compare them as they are so different, at least the way I saw saw the world in my head. But still the book is a piece of art. Loved it, will read again some day.

5 people found this helpful

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Oh gosh. Nope.

This book is the perfect storm of a narrator who, bless her heart and despite her best efforts, was not the person for this read, an opaque plot that never comes together or makes sense and prose that most decidedly does not sing. Pass.

2 people found this helpful

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Almost but not quite vague enough

Have you ever read a book that you couldn't give spoilers away even if you wanted to? Well this is it. I cant give spoilers because almost nothing of consequence that you cant deduce in the first 10 pages happens. The characters have no relatable motivations, no growth or arcs and no conclusions or catharsis of any form. The world is vaguely described but not vaguely enough so you are left with a feeling of incompleteness instead of surreal.

People that didnt enjoy the series LOST stay away.

People that expect hard science fiction stay away (the most sciency jargon is "eucariot").

1 person found this helpful

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Tedious environmental Lovecraft

NON SPOILER REVIEW: While Annihilation is technically well-written and the individual scenes are quite enjoyable, progressing through the book makes one realize the lack of coherent structure and momentum necessary to bind a story of this type together. With two hours to go, I realized The Biologists relationships, insights and experiences weren't going to tie together in any neat character moment. And they didn't. It sort of all just fell into a heap, like being poured out of a bucket. I can push it around with the toe of my boot and see the whole, but it's still a weak gruel. The conclusion is a decompressed, toothless Lovecraft - a futile barrage of adjectives to describe the indescribable that doesn't hold the journey it took you on. The whole book is just a long winded justification to explain what has sort of been inexplicable. And I'm no better for the knowing. If you're into maudlin, sci-fi with a main character that keeps you as distanced as she does from the world, and that's more into justification than exploration, then have at it. There's a couple nice character moments, but it's not enough for me. If this was a 30 page short story, I think I would have loved it and the length would have justified the idea. The narrator does a solid job with what she's given. ps. I apologize, but I don't care if there are answers in the later books. I'm talking about this one. *** SPOILER * * * * Yes, I know her experiences as a biologist are a (pale) reflection of the experiences she was currently undergoing. Where observer becomes subject etc. But it's not enough. As I said, that's a 30 page idea. Tops. Sorry to be so negative.

1 person found this helpful

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Soulless, but good.

Interesting story. The Biologist is probably the least likeable character ever created. The narration fits her, although a lot of times felt like listening to an artificial voice, like Alexa or the Google Translate voice. Also, she pronounces the word "detail" in such a wierd way (-dettaele-) that it will haunt me for my life.

1 person found this helpful

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I didn't get it

Took me months to finish. Fell asleep for the final 15 minutes (and several times before that), didn't care, filed as finished.
Narrator could be improved with Text-to-Speech.

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Doesn't make much sense after a single listening

I liked the first part of the book better than the second, because I thought that plotwise the story would explain itself. At the 5 hour mark (with a 6 hour book) I had the feeling that with a story still getting more complex and confusing, this is not going to be the case.
The descriptions of the enviroment were beautiful, and some of the 'insanity moments' were impressive too.
I would give 3 stars if this was a stand alone book, but I hope that the whole trilogy will explain the details.

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Creepy and thought provoking

It was very unnerving. The protagonist isn't a very likeable character. But that is intentional. Open-ended and thought provoking. Read of you like forming your own conclusions.

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A good book

Great narrator,very good book,it goes under your skin,i’ll read the others,there’s only one thing i would have chosen differently,the author could have been more descriptive ,seems to me kind of on purpose just to make you wanting more.

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  • Andy
  • 09-19-14

An interesting story let down by the production

A creepy, other-world story that reminded me of a cross between Ian Banks (not the scifi) with a dash of Into the mountains of madness. But, oh god, the narration!

The dialogue was delivered well but , on the whole, this has either been badly edited or her read was done in a hurry. There are no gaps over 1 second between sentences. The text runs into itself. Sentences are left meaningless and there is no sense of pace. Tension is killed. With a little more breathing space the mistakes in the read could have been forgiven - McCormick can get the tone right. I just found myself shouting "PARAGRAPH" a lot.

It's a shame the production spoils an otherwise interesting story

38 people found this helpful

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  • Lawrie Roboto
  • 02-04-18

Poor reading

I wanted to like this - it’s a story that definitely appeals to me, but unfortunately the narration by Carolyn McCormick is very, very poor. I was often completely pulled out of the story because she has no idea how to read out loud, and would voice sentences in such a confusing way - random pauses, inappropriate intonations, complete mispronunciations - that I had a hard time following the story at all. I wanted to enjoy this, but honestly, it was a relief when it was over.

19 people found this helpful

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  • TommyBurn
  • 01-04-18

Interesting story, almost ruined by narration

I think I'm pretty tolerant of narrators usually, but this sounded to me like a computer reading out an email. in places the intonation and timbre were just wrong with gaps where there shouldn't be or sentences running together.

the story was interesting. reminded me of J G Bllard. I am a bit luke warm towards Ballard, and to this, but if you are a fan I definitely think you will like this book.

I probably will give the other 2 in the series a go.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Paul Driscoll
  • 01-05-18

Tedious and poorly narrated

An interesting premise weakened by a poor narrator; at times read far too fast and barely understandable.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Matt
  • 07-04-16

By the third book i'd given up and was over it.

What would have made Annihilation better?

There's too much waffle, the whole trilogy should be edited down to a single book. I found myself bored completely with utter disinterest in most of it. Some good bits of thriller horror sci-fi, but then stopped caring. Didn't even bother finishing the third book, just gave up on it and moved on to much more fun/interesting audiobooks.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

area x

What about Carolyn McCormick’s performance did you like?

brilliant, really well performed.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Annihilation?

I'd get rid of anything personal to the characters, the memories, flashbacks, inner thoughts, make it far more expositional and a thriller. the incredible amount of garbage and waffle in between suspenseful scenes bored me out of my skull. I also got the sense that many descriptive elements were contradictory of themselves, that there were things being expressed that "may or may not have been happening" whilst I appreciate wanting your audience to "experience" what the characters are going through, I actually ended up just hating the story. I find it really funny that the book is compared to a project that JJ abrahms would do. In his early years he directed "lost" which alienated much of his fan base by leading them down a confusing and utterly pointless story... same thing with this book. confusing and pointless. Had great potential though.

Any additional comments?

can I have my money back?

8 people found this helpful

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  • Bonje
  • 11-16-17

Dull

The reader of this book makes it impossible to enjoy she is dull and monotonous and lifeless bringing not life to the characters or story its is just awful

3 people found this helpful

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  • C M Osbrne
  • 02-17-21

Worst book I have ever suffered through

I can’t help but feel I am missing the point. The blurb sounded right up my street but this was TERRIBLE. Worst in a long time. I am actually baffled as to why I kept going until the end but A) I have massive FOMO and B) I honestly believed there would be a clever twist or it would redeem itself.

Put simply there is no point to this story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Richard Laurence
  • 04-05-18

Terrible narration

A ponderous story and a terrible production - the narrator was plodding with no sense of timing. Any sense of mounting tension or excitement was completely absent. If you watched the excellent Netflix film expecting more of the same (deliciously) deeply disturbing experience, you’re going to be disappointed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nick
  • 03-07-18

A lot about nothing....

For some reason I wanted to finish it, but I hated it ever step of the way.

There was a lot of words that shouldn't have been used and thrown together, it was like the author was sat with a dictionary and tried to use as many words as possible, it flitted between past and present with no reason.

Long drawn out monologues like along the lines of "it was a light, but less of a light, more of a ocean but it wasn't an ocean and I was drawing, I was a sparrow but also a duck and inside me was a fire that was in fact actually just my liver"

Pointless....

3 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 07-03-16

The Jury is out ....

Having reached the end of the first book in the series I'd agree with one coolest I read that suggested it was a bit like Margaret Atwood re-writing 'Roadside Picnic". There were some aspects of the prose that I wasn't entirely happy with & feel a bit of editorial work would help. So would I recommend it? Yes, but with reservations. It's a flawed work, & a bit short. Kind of sketchy in places ..... tho to be fair this is better than being over-written, & the sketchiness the authir would reasonably argue was largely deliberate. An omnibus edition will probably follow in a couple of years & be more satisfying as such. I am interested enough to see if the author has the ideas to lead this to a satisfactory resolution, which was obviously never going to be the point with a first volume.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael John Beggs
  • 01-15-15

Narrator is perfect

Carolyn McCormick is the perfect Biologist. Brilliant story, but I am really glad to have heard this as an audiobook because the narrator inhabits the character so well. Wish the next two books were available here.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mary
  • 10-06-17

Please add the whole trilogy

Please add the whole trilogy to Audible. Please! I am dying to hear the rest. Thank you.

3 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 01-24-17

Boundary pushing stuff

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book was recommended to me by a friend. I have in turn recommended it to others. The genre is my thing and I was looking for something after relistening to the Dune series.

This book is not laid back listening. It has a constant undertone that kept me off kilter and made me think the whole way through. I imagine that I will get more from it each time I listen to it. I am going to get the hardcopy as well, as this is a story that is original, originally told and uses a very different style of prose to put together quite a complex and interesting story.

What other book might you compare Annihilation to, and why?

I don't think I can compare it to another book. The style is quite unique in that the full story is told in a linear fashion but is actually not a linear narrative.

Which character – as performed by Carolyn McCormick – was your favourite?

I listen to the books at 1.25x speed - I think this meant that I lost some of McCormick's intonation and phrasing. Others have praised her narration - I think they are right but there was something a little off kilter (and perhaps that was deliberate).

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robert W. White
  • 04-05-16

lots of metaphor. pretty dry to follow.

thoroughly metaphorical. not really my thing but i will read the next book to continue the story. it is intriguing and i like the Lovecraftian feel to the story.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-15-21

Terrible

I did not enjoy the story line or the narrator, I found the narrator read too quickly without much inflection or variation in her voice.
The story line was incomplete and overly detailed, not for me.

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  • Harrison
  • 11-14-21

brilliantly imaginative, but...

Amazingly imaginative with unique world building and a suspenseful setting. Hence I am at a loss over how it's so boring. I listened because it was highly recommended and lauded by an opinion I trust, and I can see why it was. But, IMO, that powerful context, setting and suspense doesn't lend well to how heavily the story relies on mundane allegory and sentiment to build momentum. For me the result irritatingly ends up failing to suspend disbelief on so many occasions.

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  • Matthew
  • 11-01-21

not worth it

the narrator reads like a emotionless pice of wood.
the story itself was prity meh and it is clear that the author has never seen a dolphin swim

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  • Joshua Sommerfeld
  • 10-05-21

Incredible, but maybe not suited to audiobook

I loved the story, and Carolyn does a great job with some very abstract prose. There were times when I wanted to "reread" passages to ensure understanding and that was hard in audiobook form. Recommended but perhaps purchase the book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-27-21

Intriguing and suspenseful

Loved the narrator, story was interesting and I loved the way the narrator built suspense. Can't wait for the next two books to come out on Audible!

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  • Larissa
  • 08-12-20

Loved the unconventional style.

I got this book because it was recommended, and was delighted to find it was the basis for one of my favourite movies. If you are looking for a blow by blow of the movie plot you will be disappointed, but the spirit of both book and movie are in keeping. I feel McCormick's performance fits well with the persona of the biologist.